Revolutions are unpredictable and their most significant changes take time. The signage reads: POOR VISIBILITY AHEAD

-- photograph: MIL22

— photograph: MIL22




[ Racing to wish our readers for the arrival of 2016 last week we posted these excerpts, intending to use them as epigraphs for a much longer entry. But the plan changed when a train of ideas refused to stop growing. We realised that it would be easier to put what we had to say in a new post. ]


[I]n 1440 … Gutenberg is said to have perfected and unveiled the secret of printing based on his research … By 1450, the press was in operation …

Wikipedia entry on Johannes Gutenberg

At the end of the 15th century, even the advent of printing did little to reduce a book’s price. It was more of a saving to buy parchment or paper, inks, etc., and copy a book than to purchase even a second-hand printed copy. … Ordinary people . . . did not have Bibles and would never be able to afford one, whether copied by scribes or printed …

Marc Drogin, writer, calligrapher and independent scholar, cited in a footnote to our next excerpt:

Because a newly printed Gutenberg Bible “cost roughly the equivalent of more than a dozen well-fed cattle or the title to a house in town,” few in the late fifteenth century could ever hope to own a copy, not to mention the abundant supply of cheap monastic labor that made unnecessary the additional expenses for reproducing ecclesiastical works through the printing press.

— ‘Of Monks, Medieval Scribes, and Middlemen,’ Peter Yu, 2006, as an associate professor of Law at Michigan State University College of Law.